Official Announcement

OM Arts is pleased to say hello to Dave McKissick! His start date is Wednesday, May 1.

As the new Arts Catalyst for Oceania / North America – he will be responsible for stewarding the ministry partnerships OM Arts has within ONA. These relationships are primarily the OM fields in ONA. But he will also be relating to churches, schools and other ministries with artistic emphases throughout the area. 

Through his focused attention on these relationships, we have high hopes that together we will be able to mobilize that many more artists, leaders of artists and funding to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.

Dave comes to us with a wealth of experience: as an Air Traffic Controller for the Air Force and the FAA. His OM career started in the US office in 2012, being a team leader in sending many Americans to the field for both short and long term. His most recent three years have been serving with OM in Norway, as Director of Church Relations and then as the interim Field Leader.

Dave has been married to Jo for 32 years. They have two grown daughters in the Atlanta area and they are expecting their first grand-twins!

Not only does he come with the right experience to flourish in this job, it seems God has also wired him just right to be a networker – being both extremely organized and personable at the same time. Hallelujah for good fits!

Mat Carson OM Arts, Director

The Appeal…

The appeal, the announcement, the Albanians, the arts, and the adventure continues.

Spoiler alert, we are not in Ireland!

The Appeal

On December 10, we were notified that our application for long-term visas to serve in Ireland had been denied by the Irish National Immigration Service (INIS). Both Jo and I were given several reasons for this decision, some were the same, but some were different. We were given 6 weeks to appeal by submitting the additional paperwork they required. Initially, this was very frustrating because we had already submitted most of the documents they said they needed. As we communicated our situation with our OM team in Ireland, we discovered that everyone (9 people) who applied to join the OM Ireland team was denied. While this gave us comfort that it wasn’t “just us,” it also caused us concern that the issue might be outside of our control.

We gathered as much of the extra documentation as we could and submitted it prior to the deadline with minimal hope that it would be approved. One of the items they requested (twice) was copies of my (Dave) previous passports. I explained to them that they had been destroyed, but they insisted that I provide them copies; I applied for copies through the US State Department, which never arrived.

We had no idea when we would receive a decision, but if our visas would be approved, we needed to be prepared to leave the US within two weeks. However, if they were denied we would need a plan for staying in the US. Part of us wanted to be pragmatic and make a backup plan, the other part of us wanted to be faithful and let God work through the INIS process. To say the weeks of waiting were challenging would be a gross understatement.

The Announcement

On January 27 (still no word from INIS at this point), we were hosting a lunch date with our oldest daughter, Lindsay and her husband Caleb. As soon as she walked into our apartment, she said “I’m pregnant” followed by Caleb announcing, “and it’s twins!!” That is a moment that will be forever etched in our memories. Obviously, the dominate topic the rest of the day was “the babies.” One comment of that day from Lindsay caught us off-guard; she said “I really don’t want you to leave now.” FYI, twins are due in mid-August.

The Acknowledgment

One thing that Jo has said over and over is “when grandkids come, we’re done serving overseas.” I have always laughed at her for this “unspiritual” attitude, but I did know that it would cause us to think differently about living abroad. However, when I heard Lindsay’s news, my very first thought was “there is no way we can go to Ireland now.” For the next week, Jo and I wrestled with our new reality. We knew that our visas could be approved any day and that Ireland would expect us to arrive quickly. We also knew that if we got on that plane, we would be sacrificing our family, again.

We had made a commitment to OM Ireland and we knew they had been holding our roles for many months. We also knew they were losing other workers because of the visa situation and their team was diminishing. We also felt very strongly that we needed to change the trajectory of our family’s relational history by being near-by.

Jo and I are both the youngest of our respective families and there are many years between us and our siblings. Additionally, we have always lived far from our extended families so our girls never had the opportunity to have close relationships with their grandparents, aunts/uncles, or cousins. Jo and I felt that if we returned overseas, this trend would continue with the next generation and we didn’t want that. We also knew that we would not be able to fully engage with Ireland because of the babies.

After a week of this tension, we decided to acknowledge this to OM Ireland and we requested to be released from our commitment. That was a painful conversation because we felt that we were letting the Irish team down. However, it also allowed them to move forward without us and it allowed us to start focusing on a plan to stay in the US. After that conversation, we rescinded our appeals with INIS and formally ended our plan of moving to Ireland. We later found out that all of the other appeals had been denied and we felt that our decision had been validated.

While this decision did give us a sense of relief, it also created other tensions we had to navigate; what about the belongings we had taken to Ireland from Norway (about 750 pounds of household goods), we didn’t know where we could live, what we would drive, or what we would do.

The Albanians in Kosovo

After we realized we would be staying in the US, I started looking for a new role with OM USA. Several roles were offered to me and I took some weeks to decide what I wanted to do. In the meantime, I was asked to lead a Heart Sounds International (HSI) short-term mission team to Kosovo to work with a local Albanian church. The HSI team would host a worship music writing workshop to help the Albanians write ethnically Albanian worship songs in Kosovo. HSI engages with people groups in least-reached parts of the world who have little or no indigenous worship music in their own language, using their own instruments, and based on their own styles of worship. They do this through ethnomusicology (Google it). My role was mostly administrative, but I did get to use my photography skills to capture the trip in images.

The local church that invited HSI to Kosovo hoped to write 4 children’s songs and 9 adult worship songs during the 1-week workshop. When we finished, 39 songs had been written in total. The church was very excited because there had never been a single Albanian children’s worship song written in Kosovo before that workshop.

Dave with the team in Kosovo

The Arts

As I said earlier, I was offered several roles associated with the OM USA office. While I was trying to decide on what direction to go, I was given an invaluable piece of advice: determine what you DON’T want to do first, then it will be easier to determine what you DO want to do. After 6 weeks of interviews, job descriptions, clarifying questions, and searching my heart for what I could honestly say “yes” to. I accepted a role with OM Arts, yes that’s correct, Arts! People who play, sing, dance, draw, sculpt, and in general, create! OM Arts mobilizes and sustains artists in mission. My roles will be recruiting and mobilizing artistic people into missions as well as mentoring those who are already in ministry. Jo has been considering a few different options as her next area of service, too, and expects to make a decision within another week or so. Stay tuned for more information on that in our next update.

The Adventure Continues…

For now, we will continue to live near our OM USA base in Tyrone, GA, so that we can be connected to the team here. Our roles will allow us to work remotely, but we still like the interaction with the other folks. We plan to rent for a year and then buy a home between Atlanta and Chattanooga in the summer of 2020. We are looking forward to our new roles, both in ministry and as grandparents.

The Epilogue (doesn’t start with A, but it needs to be said)

Remember our church in Norway and how I took one of the pastors to Ireland, and how he wanted to start sending Norwegians to Ireland to join in the ministry there? That church has taken a giant step forward in this direction. In February, the church sent three people to Ireland on another vision trip. The church and our OM team in Ireland thought it would be a good idea if I was there to ensure the relationship got off to a good start. So, I flew to Ireland and introduced my Norwegian friends to our Irish team. We visited three different churches and they saw many opportunities for involvement in Ireland. As a result of this relationship, the Norwegian church has decided to partner with OM Ireland by sending yearly teams to participate in evangelism and practical work on the OM base. This was a perfect way for us to end the Norwegian phase of our ministry. Even though we are saddened to not be joining the Irish team, we are very happy that we were able to add to their list of partnering churches. Additionally, while I was back in Ireland I was able to have our household goods picked up and shipped to the US. Win-win!!

Dave introducing the Norwegians to an Irish church

Other notable items

• We have re-engaged with the church we were part of before we left for Norway
• We have joined a new small group
• We have been invited to participate in a weekly house-church meeting
• Dave’s photography business is gaining traction
           and Instagram: davemckissick
• We really enjoy spending holidays with our family again

Our first Christmas together in 3 years

Prayer Requests
• A long-term rental within our budget starting in mid-July
• Wisdom for Jo as she decides on her new role
• Wisdom for Dave as he starts his new role.
• Lindsay and the pregnancy

To be continued…

Full update coming soon. For now, Dave is on his way to Kosovo with this team.

We would be grateful if you could keep the HSI team in your prayers as they travel to Kosovo from March

28th-April 8th with Heart Sounds International (HSI).

The team will be working with a ministry that ministers to kids and youth groups in different cities of Kosovo. The team will partner with those in country to facilitate a songwriting workshop, aimed at developing children’s songs for worship and children’s meetings. The goal is to write original worship songs in Albanian that can be used with children. If time allows, the team also hopes to help participants create some more songs to be used in the church, building on last year’s successful workshop in the area.

About The Kids Club

The kids clubs have a worship time when they usually play songs and dance with actions to them. Most of the kids who attend the clubs come from Muslim background, and the ministry openly shares about Jesus every week.

The dream of the workshop is to create new songs to use in the clubs, but also to give them to other churches/NGOs to use. The ministry also wants to create videos for some of the songs in case there isn’t a dancer to lead the kids through the songs and dances.

About The Church in Kosovo

The Church is Kosovo is quite small and very young (both in the age of the Church and the age of its members). A few evangelical churches existed in the 90s, but the church did not really start growing in Kosovo until during and after the war in 1999. Immediately after the war, many organizations and workers came but very few of these original workers and organizations are still here. Praise God though that today there are a number (about 40) established churches throughout the country and most of them have local pastors. It is believed that there are around 2,000 evangelical believers in Kosovo.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray that all flights go smoothly and for peace and health as the team travels
  • For team unity and good communication
  • For the revelation of the Holy Spirit—through what is taught, received, and experienced
  • For new songs! Isaiah 42:10, “Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.”
  • For wisdom on how to provide strong Biblical teaching in songs that relate to kids
  • For our workshop leaders as they work together to facilitate the workshops
  • That songwriting participants would leave equipped to keep writing songs
  • For the team to be an encouragement to the hosts
  • For more songs to be created to be sung in the Church in Kosovo. May God work mightily among these limited number of believers

Landed, the long Layover, and the pending Departure…

The landing, the long lay-over, and the pending departure; transition has become our new normal.

Greetings to all from Fayetteville, Georgia. We have finally landed back in the US of A and for that we are extremely thankful. A huge thank-you to Duane P. for helping to make our return trips cheaper and less stressful. As I anticipated in the last update, our final days in Norway were very busy and emotionally draining.

Our last day in the Norwegian office was Sep 7, the next day was our farewell party, and the next week we started packing out of our apartment. The following weekend, we traveled to Ireland for meetings with our new team. We also used that flight to transport approximately 700 pounds of extra luggage which is being stored for us at the Ireland office. Trying to decide what to send to Ireland and what to keep with us for the US was a major challenge because we knew we would have about 3 months and two different seasons in the U.S., but we could only check 2 bags each. After Ireland, we returned to Norway to finish cleaning the apartment and getting rid of the stuff we weren’t able to sell.

On Sep 23, we boarded our final flight from Norway and headed to Belgium for Jo’s People Care II course. This course was part of her preparation for one of her roles in Ireland, People Care. We stayed at the OM base near Brussels and while Jo was in class, I (Dave) explored the city. On Sep 27, I departed Brussels for Malaysia where I attended the second week of the Senior Leaders’ course. This was part of my preparation for joining the leadership team in Ireland. While I was in Malaysia, Jo travelled back to the US. With much appreciated help from Tia S., our son-in-law’s mom, she moved into our temporary home, picked up our loaner van, and started adjusting to the land of bigger and faster. I was finally able to join her on Oct 10 after being awake for 2 consecutive days and travelling through 12 time zones in one day.

Our first order of business was completing the application for the Irish visas. This required finger printing, FBI background checks, remembering every address we have ever lived at, and completing 3 versions of the application because the Irish government is still in the process of revising their procedures. Our applications were finally submitted on Nov 5 and our anticipated approval date is Dec 17-31. More on how this will affect our travel plans later…

Long lay-over
Even though we have physically landed and are semi-permanent for the next several weeks, we still feel like we’re in “lay-over” mode, wandering around an airport awaiting our next departure. There are several factors contributing to these feelings and I’ll try to convey them:
1. Saying good-bye with your mouth is easy, saying good-bye with your heart can be very difficult. Even though it wasn’t our own culture, we felt at home in Norway and we had become accustomed to their way of life. We also left behind some dear friends, with no idea if we’ll ever have the opportunity to see them again (at least in this lifetime).
2. Not having a clear purpose leads to a sense of wandering. I currently have no full-time responsibilities involving OM because I had a clear hand-over to my Norwegian successor. I will have a few meetings with some US leaders regarding partnerships in Ireland, but those haven’t happened yet. Jo, however, had an unclear hand-over. This is because her replacement didn’t arrive on the team until shortly before we departed and they didn’t have much time for overlap. Additionally, because of Jo’s continuing role as European Area Personnel Officer, she is assisting Norway (and other European offices) when they have questions. This means she still gets emails from the Norwegian team which makes it more difficult to completely unplug. Additionally, we are still several months from fully engaging with our Irish roles so this all leads to a sense of “what do I do today…?”
3. We know we are temporary. Therefore, we’re not buying large quantities of pantry items or warm weather clothes or anything else. In fact, we even joke about buying green bananas.
4. Engaging with a new church and developing new relationships is also challenging because we know we might only see the people a few times and then we’re off again.

All of this leads to a sense of long lay-over.

Two very positive things during this time: we have a nice home that is sponsored by a local church to live in while we’re in the US and we have a low-cost vehicle to drive. These are wonderful blessings.

Pending departure
Our anticipated arrival date in Ireland is Jan 27. That is when we will join the next group of new team members in their on-boarding training. As I mentioned above, our visas might not be approved until mid to late December which means we won’t be able to purchase tickets very far in advance. Additionally, because of Jo’s role, she must attend the bi-annual intake conference for new OMers in Germany Jan 14-26.

In the meantime, we are reconnecting with our immediate family, our local supporters, and recharging as much as possible. I am taking advantage of a local walking track and trying to get in a few miles each day.

Jo is still engaged with her role as European Personnel Officer. This means she continues to work several days a week and she just returned from Romania for meetings with the other European leaders.

That brings you up to date on our situation.

Connecting the dots from Norway to Ireland
In the spring of 2018, I invited a pastor from our Norwegian church to visit Ireland with me to see if the work there was something the church would want to be involved in. Three days before we left Norway, Jo and I had a final meeting with him and the senior pastor from our church and they were very interested in following up on that visit. After many emails between the team in Ireland and the church, the church has decided to send a vision team to Ireland in the spring. Hopefully, this will lead to many teams of Norwegians coming to Ireland to join the work. This will be especially significant for us because it will be two groups of people that we care about working together. It is also a validation for me that even though I often felt that my efforts in Norway were not producing the results I wanted to see, Father was indeed working behind the scenes.

An invitation
To all in the Atlanta area, we are planning a meet-and-greet at Southside church in Peachtree City, 777 Robinson Rd, Peachtree City, GA 30269, Monday, December 10, from 6:00-9:00 pm. We will provide coffee and cake. We will have a time of open fellowship and then some Q & A. We would love to see everyone who can join us.

If you are unable to join us on December 10, please let us know if you are able to meet us at another time. We would love to tell you the stories of Norway and share what we know about Ireland.

Prayer requests:
1. Visa process: that the visas would be approved in a timely manner so we can purchase our tickets and plan our travel.
2. Ministry partners: that we would have enough partners to support us prayerfully, as well as financially for our season in Ireland. A few people have dropped off of our financial support team for various reasons, so if you know of anyone who might like to join our team, we would appreciate any recommendations you have for us.
3. Using this time wisely: that we would be refreshed and prepared for Ireland when we depart the US.

Dave (423) 381-5161
Jo (423) 381-5974
Face Book Dave Jo McKissick

Thank you for your continued support and we hope you will continue the journey with us in Ireland.

The Final 90 Days…

Dave and Jo’s final countdown has begun…

By the time you read this we will have less than 90 days remaining in Norway. This is a bitter-sweet time for us because we are looking forward to our time in the US and then joining the Irish team, however we know that there will be pain associated with saying good-bye to our lives here.

The Things That Have Happened

The past few months have been busy for Jo. As the Personnel Officer for Norway and the European Area, she has been swamped with General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) implementation. She really does not enjoy that part of the work but she knows it must be done and her attention to detail makes her very good at it. The fun part of her job is helping people join OM and she has two people in the process now. One of these applicants will be Jo’s replacement in the office and that is a huge answer to prayer.

April was a busy month for both of us. I (Dave) visited Ireland with a pastor from our church. The pastor wanted to see how our Irish team partners with local churches and how he could encourage Norwegian young people to participate in that program.

After the business part of that trip, Jo arrived and we spent a week exploring Ireland and learning what it would be like to live there. We visited some of the team members and had a great time seeing some of the sights. Then Jo stayed for another week to attend a Refresh retreat for wives of leaders.

The following weekend was our Annual Business Meeting for OM Norway. We hosted Lawrence Tong, the International Director of OM and introduced the new OM Norway leader. It was a Friday night to Saturday lunch event and was attended by almost 30 people. We hope this has created momentum for the new leader to build on.

Dave and Lawrence Tong

Jo had her first exposure to the middle-eastern culture when she travelled to the Gulf region in May to attend a meeting of other Area Personnel Officers from around the OM world.

In May I attended the first week of a Sr Leadership Course in Belgium. There were 18 of us, all leaders with different roles from different regions of the OM world. It was a beneficial time of learning, sharing, and networking. The second part of the course is in October, more on that later.

June 1 was the end of my time as Field Leader as our new leader stepped in. She has taken all of my previous roles and I am helping her understand her new responsibilities.
Knowing that my replacement is in place and that Jo’s be in place soon gives us peace about leaving the team.

In late June we took our final driving tour of Norway. We spent 11 days on the road, drove 3500 Km (2175 miles), and enjoyed the beautiful Norwegian scenery. Because we were in a different location almost every day it wasn’t the typical “relaxing” vacation; but we listened to two books on tape and the mental distraction prevented us from thinking about work, and that was very relaxing. The best part of the trip, Jo finally got to see her favorite bird, the puffin. We also saw Lemmings, musk ox, and red fox.

On July 4th, I had my final speaking event in Norway. It was in a beautiful wooden church that was originally built in the mid-1600s. It seemed strange to me that while the USA was celebrating its 242nd birthday, I was speaking in a church that was over 375 years old.

The Things That We Think Will Happen

The next 3 months will be very busy for us and will be filled with travel. In July, I will attend an outreach in Spain and France with a Norwegian college student who has been involved in many of our youth events in years past. Then I will be in Germany with our annual TeenStreet conference. In August, Jo will travel to Netherlands for the GO Conference with the new Norwegians who are joining OM.

In September we will both travel back to Ireland for their team retreat. This will allow us to meet the rest of the team and to begin building relationships with our future team mates. We will also use this trip as an opportunity to transfer some of our extra clothes and household goods to Ireland. After that Jo will attend a People Care II course in Belgium for her People Care role and I will attend the second week of the Sr Leadership Course in Malayasia.

In October we will arrive in the Atlanta area and await approval of our Ireland visas. During our time in the US we will live in a mission-house provided by a local church. Jo will continue to help the office staff back in Norway as well as continue her work as the European Personnel Officer. I plan to start engaging with my new roles for the Irish team so that I will be up-to-speed when we arrive.

In November, Jo will return to Germany for European meetings, then in January we will move to Ireland, if our visas are appoved.

The Things We’re Not Sure About

Moving is stressful. Moving internationally is more stressful. Moving internationally when neither of the countries is your home country is very stressful.

In the next few weeks we will start applying for our Irish visas. The process usually takes 4 months to complete and appears very straight forward. But there is always the chance it could be complicated.
We are currently in the process of renewing our Norwegian visa so that we can stay until September and hopefully this will also be approved. This adds another level of uncertainty.

September will be a challenging month for us. We have set September 7 as our final day with the OM Norway team. We will use the remainder of September to sell our furniture, pack our stuff and handle all the other details for leaving Norway: selling the car, settling the utility accounts, closing the bank account, and other details we haven’t thought of yet…

The last piece of this puzzle is our final travel from Norway to the US. Because Jo and I both have training courses in different countries with overlapping dates, we will probably have different travel dates and routes to the US.

The Things We Know

God is sovereign and He has a plan! The lesson we have learned the most during our time here is that God is faithful, He is not surprised, and He will not fail us.

We are doing our best to finish well; we are making the best plans we can and we are trying to be prepared for all possibilities. However, we know that our plans may or may not happen and when things go sideways, we will do our best to remain faithful.

Specific Prayer Requests

Wisdom for all the details of leaving Norway
Bank, utilities, car, apartment…
Transporting our “stuff” to Ireland
We can take 9 extra bags each but the logistics of this could be problematic.
Peace while saying good-bye to our Norwegian friends
Ensuring a good hand-over of our roles to our replacements
Visa approval for Norway and Ireland
Vehicle to use while in the US (Oct-Jan)

Thank you for reading, thank you for your support, and thank you for your encouragement during our time in Norway.
Dave and Jo